Colonial Downs Returns With Successful Opening Night

NEW KENT, Va. (Aug. 8, 2019) – With the call of “Riders Up” from Kate Tweedy Chenery, daughter of Secretariat’s owner, Penny Chenery, Thoroughbred racing in Virginia began a new era Thursday evening as Colonial Downs opened racing for the first time in six years to enthusiastic crowds, racing luminaries and top flight racing from horsemen and jockeys throughout the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions.

Charmn Charlie Ray won the first race at Colonial Downs in six years. Photo by Coady Photography.

“By all accounts the first night of our Racing Revival was an unqualified success,” said Jill Byrne, Colonial Downs Vice President of Racing Operations. “This has been an especially emotional and rewarding evening for the hundreds of people who worked so hard over the last year to make the return of racing in Virginia become a reality. We thank our horseman who participated in tonight’s races and to all of our fans who came out and enjoyed a tremendous experience.”

On an evening when jockey Trevor McCarthy won three races, and trainers Michael Matz, Jamie Ness, and Jonathan Thomas each won a race, Foxtale Racing Stable’s 6-year-old gelding Charmn Charlie Ray, ridden by Mychel Sanchez, went wire-to-wire in capturing the first race of the evening at 1 1/16 miles by a head over Conquest Falcon on the Secretariat Turf Course.

On his reaction to winning the first race at Colonial Downs in six years,  Sanchez said “It was pretty awesome. This was my first time here and it’s a beautiful place. Happy for everyone to get it back going again. The turf is amazing.” 

The featured race a $60,000 event for fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles went to Matthew Schera’s 3-year-old Zonda, who held off the fast-closing a Princesschope by a neck with McCarthy up for the win. Chuck Lawrence trained the chestnut daughter of Scat Daddy to her second win in five starts.

Total handle for the 10-race program, which had 93 starters, was $1,562,390. Estimated attendance for the evening was 3,200.   

Colonial Downs, under new ownership by the Colonial Downs Group, a subsidiary of Peninsula Pacific Entertainment, was made possible through the establishment of Historical Horse Racing (HHR) in Virginia by the General Assembly in 2018. Revenues generated through HHR at Rosie’s Gaming Emporiums now open in New Kent, Vinton and Richmond, and soon to open in Hampton, are generating significant tax revenues for the state and localities but are also helping to fund purses at Colonial Downs and help revitalize Virginia’s horse industry.

About Colonial Downs

Colonial Downs’ bright future features the return of live thoroughbred racing and full card simulcasting with the excitement of innovative historic horse racing (HHR) gaming technology. In collaboration with the Virginia Racing Commission (VRC) and Virginia Equine Alliance (VEA), Colonial Downs is set to bring competitive horse racing back to New Kent County and the Commonwealth with the re-opening of the best turf track in the country and a future network of satellite HHR facilities branded as “Rosie’s”. Colonial Downs Group is making a $300 million investment in the Commonwealth of Virginia creating 800 new jobs by the end of 2019. This effort will generate $25 million annually in state tax revenues, $17 million annually in local tax revenues and $25 million annually to Virginia’s horse industry. The project is not receiving any tax credits or government incentives.